Master of Arts
Dr. Frank Boers
Although it is well recognized that second language (L2) learners stand to gain a lot from mastering formulaic sequences (FS) in the target language, research on classroom activities that foster productive knowledge of FSs remains rather scarce. This project, therefore, examines the effectiveness of dictogloss for this purpose. While dictogloss has occurred regularly in research about L2 grammar learning, it has only recently attracted attention from researchers interested in FS learning. This experiment investigated its effectiveness in comparison with two other listening-based activities—dictation and answering comprehension questions. It was hypothesized that dictogloss leads to greater gains in FS knowledge because (a) it involves retrieval of FSs from episodic memory and (b) it makes learners notice (and fill) the gaps in their knowledge.
142 Chinese EFL first-year university students were divided into three treatment groups (dictogloss, dictation, and answering comprehension questions). A pre-test, an immediate post-test, and a delayed post-test were administered to compare the learning gains. Dictogloss was not found to be more effective than dictation for the purpose of FS learning, although both were more effective than answering comprehension questions. Dictogloss did appear to engage students more than dictation with the content of the text. Analyses of the dictogloss worksheets show that it was especially students who successfully retrieved the FSs during text reconstruction who stood a good chance of recalling the FSs in the post-test. This suggests that it is important for teachers who wish to try dictogloss to ensure good accuracy at the reconstruction stage.
Summary for Lay Audience
Learning vocabulary in a second language does not only involve learning a lot of words but also a lot of multiword expressions, referred to as formulaic sequences (FSs). Research has demonstrated that proficiency in a second language and knowledge of FSs are strongly associated. Yet, research on the effectiveness of certain classroom activities intended to foster mastery of multiword expressions remains scarce.
This project examines the potential for FS learning purpose of an activity called dictogloss, in which students listen to a short text a few times, try to reconstruct it from memory, and then compare their version with the original text. Dictogloss has figured rather prominently in research about learning and teaching grammar, but it has only recently attracted attention from researchers interested in learning and teaching FSs. Only two studies have illustrated its potential for FS learning so far, but these did not compare the effectiveness of dictogloss with other activities. This experiment, therefore, investigated its effectiveness in comparison with two common classroom listening activities—dictation and answering listening comprehension questions.
142 Chinese EFL first-year university students were divided into three groups (dictogloss, dictation, and answering comprehension questions). They completed a number of tests to compare how many FSs were learned as a result of these three listening-based activities. The results suggest that dictogloss was not more effective than dictation for the purpose of FS uptake, although both dictogloss and dictation were more effective in this regard than answering comprehension questions about the text. On the positive side, dictogloss appeared to engage students with the content of the text to a degree that is comparable to answering comprehension questions, whereas dictation did not.
Comparisons of the FSs on the dictogloss worksheets and the test sheets reveal that it is especially when students successfully recalled FSs as they reconstructed the text that they stood a good chance of recalling the FSs also in the subsequent test. This finding, therefore, suggests that it is important to implement dictogloss activities in ways that ensure a high degree of success when the students try to reconstruct the text.
Yu, Xi, "Listening-Based Activities Promoting Productive Knowledge of Formulaic Sequences: Examining the effectiveness of dictogloss" (2020). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7219.